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Competition: The 2020 Primadonna Prize

Writing.ie | Magazine | Writing Competitions
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Competition deadline: 27th July 2020

The Primadonna Festival brings together writers, editors, readers, publishers, artists, thinkers, comedians, performers, musicians and foodies – as well as happy people of all ages and many backgrounds – to share experiences, explore new ideas and imagine new possibilities. It is a place of hope, inspiration, community and artistry in an intimate setting in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.

The Primadonna Prize, launched ahead of the first Primadonna Festival, offers an opportunity to unrepresented and unpublished writers to break through. The prize winner is fast-tracked into the industry with the help of the British Book Awards’ Literary Agent of the year for 2019, Cathryn Summerhayes, whose representation is offered to the prize winner.

Whether you’re a writer looking for a gateway towards being published or you’re simply interested in listening to ideas, Primadonna provides a unique space where difference is celebrated, not condemned. And where the voices of women and those who are marginalised in the mainstream are put front and centre.

The Primadonna Prize is for unsigned and unrepresented new writing talent. It was established to help open up access to the publishing industry, and is judged anonymously – judges are given no information on the entrants – and without regard to grammar or spelling: a first for a literary prize. The focus is squarely on the talent of the authors.

This year’s prize will be judged by a stellar lineup of literary talent. Multiple-award-winning author Elif Shafak will be joined by broadcaster, author and panellist June Sarpong OBE, and comedian, novelist and television presenter David Baddiel, as well as three ‘Primadonnas’: author Monisha Rajesh, publisher Lisa Milton and literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes. Summerhayes will again offer herself as the prize to the winner. 

Sarpong said: “I am delighted to support the Primadonna Festival for the second year in a row. The mission of the festival is one that is dear to my heart and also crucial for the publishing industry and society at large. Without gender equality in literature so many important stories go untold and so many vital voices go unheard. Primadonna aims to plug this gap whilst also unleashing a powerful wave of untapped female talent in the process.”

The theme for this year’s prize is ‘the more things change’. Entrants must submit 500 words on this topic – we wanted to give authors the option to explore the current, extraordinary times we are living through – by midnight on 27 July 2020.

Summerhayes said: “We’re very excited to read how the theme will be interpreted this year, and have no doubt that the standard will be as exceptionally high as for the first year of the Prize.”

There is a small entry fee of £8, payable by following this link. Once you have paid your entry fee, you need to email your receipt along with your submission (in PDF or Word format) to primadonnaprize.submissions@gmail.com.

A limited number of free entries are available. If you are from a low income household and require a free entry, please email us at Primadonnafestival.prize@gmail.com.

A longlist of 30 entries will go forward to a team of professional editors at a mainstream publishing house, who will sift them down to a shortlist of five. These writers will be asked to submit a longer piece of 5,000 words, to be judged by the final panel. 

The winner of the 2020 Prize will be announced in March 2021.

Terms and Conditions

1. This is a competition being run by Primadonna Festival. The first prize for this competition is £500 plus, if the winner so chooses, representation by Curtis Brown’s Cathryn Summerhayes. In addition there will be a runner-up prize (fiction) of £100 plus two hours’ mentoring with one of the Primadonna authors; and a runner-up prize (non-fiction) of £100 plus two hours’ mentoring another of the writer-Primadonnas. (‘Winner’ means the winner of the first prize.)

2. Please note that the mentoring sessions may be in person, by phone or via skype.

3. The prize will be awarded for the most original and exciting work (the ‘Content Criteria‘).

4. Entrants to the competition can be of any gender, and must be at least 18 years old, and must be resident in the UK. Entrants must not have had a book published in any format previously by a UK publisher or be under contract for publication by such a publisher. These requirements are referred to as the ‘Entrants Criteria’.

5. Entrants are required to submit in the first instance 500 words of new writing – fiction or narrative nonfiction – on the title ‘the more things change’. The second round, for those shortlisted from round one, will require a submission of 3,000-5,000 words. This can be work that has previously been written but MUST be unpublished. For fiction submissions, we will require a ‘back-of-book’ blurb of 250 words max, and for nonfiction an overview of the finished project, also 250 words max. Submissions must be in English and must be double spaced. A small entry fee of £8 is payable on submission. If this entry fee cannot be met, a limited number of free entries are available. If you are from a low income household and require a free entry, please email us Primadonnafestival.prize@gmail.com. Documents should be in PDF or Word format and the name of the document should be your own name, followed by either ‘fiction’ or ‘non-fiction’. Submissions must be made to primadonnaprize.submissions@gmail.com.

6. Initial entries will be judged on the originality of the writing. Judges will not be looking for a perfectly polished piece but for something that shows imagination and writing skill. Shortlisted entrants who make a second submission will be judged on the originality and quality of the writing, and the potential based on their synopsis for a full-length book that could successfully find a publisher.

7. A longlist of up to 30 submissions (the ‘Longlisted Submissions’) will be chosen from entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions by members of Primadonna festival. The Longlisted Submissions will be submitted to a first set of judges comprised of professional literary editors – they will choose a shortlist of five submissions (the ‘Shortlisted Submissions’).

8. Shortlisted submissions will be judged by a second set of judges who will include published writers, agents and journalists. These judges will then select one winner and two runners-up.

9. Winning entries will be the ones that best meet the Content Criteria, have the best quality of writing and the most potential to be a full-length book, and are from entrants who meet the Entrants’ Criteria. The Judges’ decision is final.

10. The Winner will be offered £500 cash and representation by literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown – contract to be agreed between the Winner and Cathryn Summerhayes if the Winner chooses to take this representation.

11. Primadonna Festival reserves the right to not select any winner from the Shortlisted Submissions if a suitable entry that meets all the criteria set out above cannot be found.

12. By submitting their work entrants undertake and warrant that their Submissions will consist of their own original work and will not infringe the intellectual property rights of anyone. If a third party’s material is used – such as lyrics of a song – the entrant will secure the necessary permission and will provide it to Primadonna Festival on request. The entrant further warrants that the work will not contain any material which is defamatory, private or confidential or which is unlawful in any way. Any entry in breach of this clause will be disqualified from being considered for the shortlist or by the Judges.

13. Entries must be submitted by emailing entries via email to Primadonnafestival.prize@gmail.com in Word or PDF format. Entries may be submitted only between 12:01am BST on 1 May 2020 and 11.59pm BST on 27 July 2020. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates, and any entries that do not meet the requirements of these Terms and Conditions, will not be eligible for entry to the competition.

14. Names of the longlisted entrants will be announced on the Primadonna Festival website on 24 August 2020.

15. Names of the shortlisted entrants will be announced on the Primadonna Festival website on 2 November 2020. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to submit their second piece of 3000-5000 words by the closing date of 4 January 2021.

16. Shortlisted entrants will be informed via email. Their names may also be publicised by the Primadonna Festival in other media or on social media sites

17. The final winner and two runners-up will be announced in March 2021.

18. The competition is not open to employees of Primadonna Festival or their families, or to anyone professionally connected to the competition or to the judges either themselves or through their families.

19. An entrant may only submit one entry. Further entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.

20. Primadonna Festival is not responsible for contacting or responding to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries that are lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.

21. Primadonna Festival reserves the right to cancel the competition and to alter the details of the Prizes or judging panels without notice. No cash alternative or other alternatives to the Prize will be provided.

22. The names and email addresses of entrants (‘Information’) will be collected by Primadonna Festival and will be used in accordance with GDPR rules. Information will not be shared with anyone outside Primadonna Festival. The Winner and two Runners-Up will be asked for their bank details so that their prize money may be sent to them. Such details will be deleted after the money has been sent except insofar as it is necessary for Primadonna Festival to keep them for its financial records.

23. Entry to the competition is subject to an £8 administration fee. We are well aware that not all aspiring writers will be able to afford the entry fee/administration charge and have set aside a number of free places for applicants in receipt of Jobseeker’s allowance; Disability benefit; Income support; and Working tax credit. If you are on low income for other reasons, please get in touch (Primadonnafestival.prize@gmail.com) and we’ll see how we can best support your entry.

24. If you or your organisation would like to sponsor entries for the competition to allow those unable to pay the administration fee, please email (Primadonnafestival.prize@gmail.com).

25. By entering the competition, each entrant agrees to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

26. These Terms and Conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these Terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

27. This competition is being organised by Primadonna Festival CIC, Laffitts Hall, Pettaugh, Suffolk, IP14 6DT.

See here for further details.

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